Often depicted with a black bar across his face or eyes in photos and videos, Dan from Downington is nothing shy of mysterious. Or perhaps just shy.
Originally a touring drummer, the pandemic allowed Dan the opportunity to explore his own songwriting and home recording. He released his first single, “Without You” earlier this year, and most recently put out his new AI-fueled video single, “Sunlight”.
His music is explorative and eclectic, as it combines a variety of elements from different genres and styles largely related to alternative pop. Layered with trap beats, live percussion, metal-esque guitars, and a unique vocal style, his work expresses a modern melancholic indie pop vibe.
Dan says that through the medium of his work, he is able to “act as a translator between our own battered souls and the world outside.”
We got to chat with Dan about the ever-popular use of AI in his new video single, the anticipation of his upcoming EP, and much more.
How has the year treated you so far? Any notable highlights?
This year has been pretty sweet actually. Over the last two months, I released two singles and two music videos to promote my up and coming EP, Stasis. And so far the reception has been pretty positive. I really didn’t know what to expect when embarking on this new project. But so far, it has been awesome!
Who is Dan From Downington?
Some dude from Pennsylvania who thinks it’s a good idea to promote depressing music with silly posts on TikTok and Instagram.
So you recently dropped your latest video single, “Sunlight.” What can you tell us about the backstory or inspiration behind this track?
So my up and coming EP, Stasis, is a concept record. Without giving the whole story away in one sentence, “Sunlight” is the track in the middle of the whole EP. All things considered, it’s actually the most optimistic of all the songs. It sort of gives you a false feeling of hope.
Like the other single for this record, I wrote the song after killing half a handle of really bad vodka. I sat down at my keyboard, and it just sort of came to me. If you’re asking about sonic inspiration, the three albums that I was listening to the most were White Pony by Deftones, N/O/I/S/E by Ghostemane, and The Mollusk by Ween.
In terms of lyrical inspiration, my muse for writing this song was the feeling of being isolated for two years. I’m not sure what the pandemic restrictions were like in Nashville, but where I was living, they were hell on earth. It was like being in solitary confinement. There were some days where you would have absolutely no human contact. And so, when writing this particular song, I think the main thought in my mind was, “I hope that things will go back to normal.” I hope that maybe I will get to see the people I care about again.
So AI platforms are becoming more prevalent and accessible to the average person these days. What can you tell us about how you went about utilizing it for your video?
Well, first I found a free AI art website. Then, I literally typed in the lyrics to my entire song line by line, stanza by stanza. And the computer spit out all the images you see in the video. As far as the video effects, I did all of those myself in Final Cut.
It’s actually kind of crazy when you think about it. I know that a lot of people right now are concerned with AI and its capabilities. But personally I’m optimistic. I see AI as a cool new tool that can enhance all forms of art. Not replace it. The reason why I used it is because I simply didn’t have the money to pay an artist for this project. This technology allowed me to do something that I would normally not be able to do because of my finances.
And yes, I’m sure as more and more of these programs come out, there will be some ethics issues. But for now, I see AI in the same way that I see the invention of photography. Sure, it made the realist painter obsolete, but look at all the amazing paintings from other artists that were created after the fact. I’m not sure that they would have been accepted if there was no camera. I think we are entering a new world of art that we have yet to experience!
What messages or feelings do you try to convey in your music?
Well the feelings are a bit depressing, haha! But over all, what I really want is for the person listening to my work to feel something more. I want someone to listen to my music, reflect on it, and say, “You know what? It’s not all that bad. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I’m going to be ok.”
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
Simply put, success to me is knowing that someone finds meaning in my art. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or one thousand (though one thousand would be nice). If I can say that I made someone feel enjoyment, then I think that I’ve made a pretty dope contribution to society.
If you could tour and open for any present-day artist, who would it be and why?
Oh dang… I haven’t really thought about it honestly. My music is a bit of a hybrid. Right now my favorite current artist is Ghostemane. But my music is pretty different from his, so that would be kind of an interesting bill. I actually don’t know who I would open for.
What are some of your goals – whether musically or otherwise – for 2023?
Well I guess my new goal is to figure out who the heck I’m gonna open up for on tour one day, haha. Outside of that, I want to strive to be the best musical artist that I can be. I plan on releasing a new piece of music every month or few weeks from now until November. And I want to continue to push the boundaries both in my music and my own creativity. All in all I want to be the best that I can be, while simultaneously kicking the door down to show everyone who I am and what I’m about!